May 4-10 is National Hospice Palliative Care Week, with a goal of heightening awareness of hospice palliative care in Canada.
For those who do not know what it is, hospice palliative care is a holistic, or whole-person, type of health care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying for terminally ill persons and their important ones. It is a combination of physical care (e.g., good pain control and symptom management) and compassionate care (e.g., emotional support, companionship and practical assistance), intended to help dying persons and their important ones to live as fully as possible when a cure is no longer an option.
The week kicks off with a Hike for Hospice. On Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m., the Tantramar Hospice Palliative Care Organization (THPCO) is holding its second annual Hike for Hospice. Starting at Sackville Town Hall, hikers will wind their way through the streets of Sackville raising funds to help THPCO support the provision of visiting volunteer and bereavement support services in the Tantramar community.
For more information about the hike and/or to download a pledge sheet, please visit THPCO’s website at thpco.ca and go to the “events” page).
Pledge sheets are also available at the Bell Aliant Store at 100 Main Street.
The theme for this year’s National Hospice Palliative Care Week is “Busting the Myths About Hospice Palliative Care”.
Some examples of common myths are:
– Myth: Receiving hospice palliative care means you will die soon. Truth: Hospice palliative care is not just for the last few days, weeks, or months of life. It is designed to help dying persons make the most of whatever time they have left. The earlier hospice palliative care is started, the greater the benefits for both patients and families. Indeed, families often wish they had accessed hospice palliative care services earlier. Hospice palliative care focuses on caring, not curing.
– Myth: I can only get hospice palliative care services in hospital. Truth: Hospice palliative care services are available in many places, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, residential hospices, and in the dying person’s own home. Hospice palliative care can be provided in the setting that best meets the needs of each patient and their family. Although most Canadians say they would prefer to die at home (surrounded by their loved ones), 70 per cent of Canadians die in a hospital.
– Myth: Hospice palliative care is just for seniors. Truth: Hospice palliative care is provided to people of all ages. Infants, children, young people, and middle-aged people die too. Hospice palliative care ensures that all Canadians, no matter their age, receive quality end of life support and care.
As Stephen Claxton-Oldfield, the chair of THPCO notes, “People don’t like to think about hospice palliative care until they need it for themselves or for a loved one. We needs campaigns like this to raise public awareness of hospice palliative care, so people know what services are available before they need them.”
To learn more about some of the hospice palliative care services available in the Tantramar region and how to access them, visit thpco.ca and go to the “services” page.